Hello out there! So, Thanksgiving dinner with family, as well as way too many leftovers, has been consumed. It was a great weekend, with my daughter home from school for a few days. We cooked and ate our traditional turkey dinner, then went to a movie in the evening. Friday is the day we traditionally put up our Christmas tree and deck the halls, so we did that and then ate turkey leftovers. Yesterday was a working day as we helped some friends move into their new house. Long day, but it always feels good to help people out. Somewhere in there I also found time to pack. This morning I went to the early Mass at our church and finished off my packing. So, let’s go to Las Vegas!
As most travelling adventures do, this one began with a visit to those friendly men in blue at the airport… the TSA agents. I really don’t mind the TSA screening at our local airport, it is small enough that there are rarely ever any lines, and the agents are genuinely friendly. I always get to the airport way early, just in case, but as usual… it wasn’t necessary. Sitting in the gate area, there are two other people waiting for this flight. But, that’s ok… it gives me time to begin this post. The sky is dreary and overcast, but there is only a small chance of any rain, so flying shouldn’t be too bad. The first leg of this trip is very short, a 26 minute flight to Detroit. I have an hour and a half layover there, and should be arriving in Las Vegas at approximately 5:30 PST.
This is really the boring opart of this live blogging… not a whole lot to talk about yet! But I hope that you stick with me through the coming week, AU2014 promises to be the best I have attended yet, and I’d love to share my experience of it with you. There is no way I can get to everything, so I’ll be focusing on those events that I actually experience first hand. Of course, I’ll take and post as many pictures as I can, and maybe even some videos.
SO…. hang in there with me this week, and keep checking back for updates. As I said in my AU Russia post….
….So… I made it safely here:
Checked in and registered for the conference, got my bag of goodies, and went in search of some food. I ended up at the Burger Bar in the Shoppes at Mandalay Bay where I enjoyed a nice Imperial Stout and some sliders. Perfect after a day of travelling. I did manage to get some pictures along the path to registration. And thanks to a fellow Expert Elite who I ran into in the Detroit airport, I was able to get a picture with the infamous AU logo in the registration center.
Yeah, that’s how I look after a day of travelling…. sigh. Anyway, that’s day -1… tomorrow is day 1, so there should be a lot more good stuff tomorrow. Thanks for reading and….
Monday December 1st 2014. Day 1
Bright and early morning here at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Got up and moving even though I really don’t have anything going on until after lunch. I wanted a look around. Sunrise over the mountains form my hotel room:
So far looking like a beautiful day….
First things first…. a nice long walk in search of coffee. Of course, it’s not really hard to find, there is a Starbucks on the way to the conference center. So, coffee in hand I headed up to level 2 to find the Speaker Ready Room, to get my gorgeous speaker shirt.
Going to be stylin’ on Wednesday! Shirt safely tucked in my bag, I am currently sittin gin the level 2 Meetup Lounge…. typing this. I apologize in advance,… this post will be long and picture heavy. I hope I don’t bore you all too too much. Here are some pics of the lounge,a nd the #AU2014 leader board… gotta step up my tweeting!
That’s it for now, I’ll update as the day progresses.
Day one has come to a close. What a busy day it turned into after things got rolling. After I left you all earlier, I attended a 4 hour long customer round-table meeting with the entire Autodesk Vault product team, to get real user input on the product, and where we thought it needed improvements. While I cannot divulge anything that was discussed in this meeting (yet another Autodesk NDA was signed), I can say that a very lively and productive discussion was had on both sides of the line. I was very glad to have been a part of it. Unfortunately I had to leave early, in order to be ready for the Freshman Orientation extravaganza on the lower level. This is a fantastic event, that I like to think I helped inspire after my first AU experience. First time attendees get a complete layout of the week, what to look for, what not to miss as well as some sage advise from people who have been to AU several times before. I attended as one of these “Mentors”. I was privileged to help out a group of architects and engineers visiting from a company in Hong Kong, here to see what they can learn about BIM (which I know nothing about).
Autodesk evangelist and all around great person Lynn Allen gave her usual fantastic presentation along with a host of guest speakers.
T-shirt guns shot about a dozen t-shirts into the crown of over 950 attendees, questions were answered, tips were shared, prizes were handed out and at the end of it all a free pass to AU2015 was given out to one lucky raffle winner. Then, drinks were shared with the crowd. This is a great event, and one I recommend anyone attend if they are coming to AU for the first time.
I did not stay for the reception, however, as the Expert Elite meetup was already underway at the Rx Boiler Room Restaurant & Bar in the Shoppes & Mandalay Bay. A good group turned out to catch up and hang out. I met some old friends and may have made a few new ones… which is what this is all about. Some beers were shared, stories told and a lot of laughs. I look forward to more networking opportunities with this group as the week progresses. Now, I’m back in my room sharing this with all of you while it is still fresh in my mind. But I think that is all for day one… tomorrow promises to be action packed as well, so…
Day Two morning update.
Another action packed day at Autodesk University 2014 is in full swing. As I type this I am sitting in my first afternoon class, so I’ll try to catch you up on the morning’s activities. As most mornings do, this one began with a search for some coffee… and breakfast. Emphasis on the coffee. I found I was not alone in my search…
This was just the opening trickle in what would soon become a throng. The meal halls are always huge at this event, so I took some pictures of the (mostly) empty tables… imagine them filled with people.
And this is only one side of the room. Breakfast this morning consisted of fresh fruit and croissant sandwiches, as well as yogurt, coffee and other assorted beverages. Pretty tasty. So fueled up, I went in search of my first class of the day, a look at transitioning from Autocad to Autocad Electrical. This class did very little toward making me feel comfortable about my class tomorrow morning, since the speaker ran into a number of technical glitches with her demos… the very same type of demos I will be using. The horror! I will just have to make sure I give myself plenty of time to set up and test everything before class begins.
After this class, I met up with a couple of fellow Expert Elites to head down to the arena for the opening keynote speech. As usual there was area of humanity waiting for the doors to open for this event.
We were treated this year to priority seating way up front. This was pretty great since I usually end up in one of the nose bleed seats and can’t really see anything. We were so close in fact that I nearly got a stiff neck from looking up at the huge screens, but it was nice to be able to see the real people instead of just the images on a monitor.
First up was AutoDesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen who also hosted last night’s Freshman Orientation. She welcomed the crowd and warmed up the audience while pointing out some of the key things not to miss at the conference.
A surprise visit next from Doc Emmet Brown came next, as he teased us about something coming up this Thursday at the closing keynote… something related to going back to the future…. of course. He also introduces us to his latest invention, the mega bot (giant t-shirt shooter!)
Jeff Kowalski and Carl Bass took the main stage after Lynn Allen and gave their usual inspiring fire up speeches. This years theme overall is The Future of How Things Are Made. Jeff spoke about how the things we design today are all dead, but how the future of design and making will not only bring life to our designs, but also bring our designs to life. Designs that are not only interactive, but self sustaining and smart enough to know when they need to be updated, and update themselves. He said that sounds a lot like science fiction, but the technology is on the brink right now. Carl then came on stage and talked about the making side of things, focusing quite a bit on 3D Printing, as expected, but also on collaboration of design and making. He gave the example of the Autodesk Spark program which offers open source design and 3D printing for basically anyone. He announced that the first Autodesk Ember 3D printers were preordering soon and would be delivering shortly after the first of the year. Exciting times coming, to be sure.
Carl then introduced Emily Pilloton, from ProjectH Design. This is an inspiring woman who teaches young people, as young as 9 years old, design skills and construction trades. She teaches 10 year old girls to weld, for example. These young people are inspired to do great things from her teaching, as the ten year old girl told her “I can weld, what CAN’T I do?” It was really great to see what she has done with these young people.
This was, to date, the shortest and most concise opening keynote I have experienced at AU. After these great speakers, I think we all felt charged up for the day.
After the keynote, I (along with pretty much everyone else) headed up for lunch. I cannot imagine the logistics of feeding this many people. The food was good as always, and I ended up sharing a table with a group of fellow Expert Elites.
After lunch I took in an afternoon of great classes, beginning with “The Trees Are Celebrating”… a class discussing how this company has gone nearly paperless with Autodesk Vault. I followed this one with Paul Munford’s “5 Mistakes of A Rookie CAD Manager”. Paul (@cadsetterout) knocked it out of the park with an awesome presentation.
Next it was my turn, sort of. I was the co-speaker in Mike Thomas’ (@aurbis) class on Inventor Representations. My task was to drive the computer and advance the PowerPoint slides, as well as running the Inventor demos. I think the class overall went quite well, though I felt less prepared than I could have been. Mike talked me through, however, and I feel confident we delivered what we set out to teach.
So…. here I am now sitting in the Expert Elite pavilion in the Exhibit Hall, catching you all up on my day.
Almost (in fact did) forget to mention that I got my annual picture with the AUGI hat, this time in the form of a selfie with Bill Adams (@blads):
The food in the exhibit hall is even better than what was in the dining hall for lunch. Prime rib and risotto, lots of great desserts, and as much free beer as you can handle (though I will not get carried away… I have a class in the morning.) Lots of people coming and going in here, it’s amazing how many people I have met over the years. SO!… I’m going to sign off for the evening and do some networking. I’ll be back tomorrow with a full report on how my class went. As always….
Good morning! It’s about 10:15 am and I survived my class presentation. Going With The FLow with Inventor Tube & Pipe. I am now officially an AU Speaker veteran. One live demo blew up in my face, causing me to run low on time… but overall I think I was able to convey the information I wanted to convey. I was nervous the entire time, but I don’t think I let it show too badly. Several people came up and gave me good feedback after it was over, I guess I’ll have to wait to see the official feedback after people do their class surveys. Probably the best thing to come out of this class, however, besides possibly making an impact on user deciding whether to go to Tube & Pipe, was the Autodesk employee who came up to me afterward to discuss my ideas for enhancements to the program. We had a great conversation and left the door wide open for more dialogue in the future. It’s nice when they come to you asking for ideas, instead of the other way around.
Anyway, that’s been my morning so far. I couldn’t sleep, so I was up early and got to my classroom as soon as someone was there to let me in. Now, I’ve had my coffee and a muffin as a late breakfast, and I’m “coming down” from the nerves of this morning. Later I have the Expert Elite lunch at Aureole restaurant at the Mandalay Bay. I’ll try to get some pictures from that, including the 4 story (or is it taller) automatic wine rack in the restaurant. So….
Relaxing in the hallway… my feet are starting to feel all of the walking. Lunch with the Expert Elites was great, and included several VIP guests including CEO Carl Bass. The food was good, as expected. I don’t think I’ve really had a bad meal in Vegas yet. Anyway here are some scenes from around the room.
EDIT: Above is the promised picture of the 4 story wine rack, it’s a bit dark but I think you get the idea…. that’s a lot of wine. I will need to get a picture of the gigantic wine rack, and attach that later… part of my evening updates later. I have a few more classes and the annual AUGI meeting this afternoon, and then a busy night chasing parties… I think I have 5 invitations. No way I will make them all. Thanks for hanging in there with me through this long ordeal…
I seem to be moving a little m ore slowly this morning… wonder why? My first class is over with, and I have a break now so I found a nice quiet hallway with a comfy chair and a wall plug (prime real estate at AU!) After my classes in the afternoon yesterday, I attended the AUGI (Autodesk Users Group International) annual meeting. I’ve always been a bit of an AUGI groupie because these people were some of my first AU friends. If I had more time to do so I would probably get more involved. Well, involved is what I got last night as I was hanging around by the door of the meeting room. I was conscripted to direct people to the correct hallway as an AUGI minion… literally! (I know I take bad selfies, so pardon the zombie-like expression… I was more focused on getting the image in frame than on smiling.)
As ridiculous as I look, this was a lot of fun. There were three of us in these hats, and Bill Adams (the official AUGI hat guy) was putting the hat on as many people as would let him and getting pictures. Finally we made our way into the meeting hall where the meeting was already in progress. AUGI presented Autodesk with the official 2014 Wish List generated by AUGI users on the forums and voted on to generate a list of top wishes for each product line. The board of directors and officers were introduced, several thank yous handed out and finally, with the meeting adjourned, it was time to collect the official AUGI beer mug and head down to the exhibit hall for the AUGI party. Food and beer lined the aisle ways in between the exhibits of tech from a variety of industries, and there was even a 13 foot tall robot than can shhot giant paint balls… if provoked.
I stayed long enough to have a beer (as you can see), some food, and to catch up with several people. Then I retreated to my hotel room to drop of the backpack I have been carrying since Sunday. I really did not want to drag that into the blogger social, which was happening at Ri Ra Irish Pub in the Shoppes at Mandalay Bay. The party was fun, but I have to say the venue was a bit small and…. loud. There was a very interesting artifact, however,… a 3D printer which is the sister of the first 3D printer made to print in space. The original is currently in service on the Internationa Space Station. The designers were also there as special guests from Made in Space. Here are some random shots from the party….
So, now I know I’m getting old, because after one Guinness and a few dozen conversations I was ready to get out of the noise. I gracefully bowed out to leave space for those with more stamina and retreated back to the hotel to call it a night. Now it’s Thursday morning, the last day of the conference. I have a couple more classes, and a lunch session to kick off the start of the Expert Elite global summit which will be held here tomorrow after the end of AU. After that is over I am staying a few extra days and my wife is joining me, and we’re going to have a mini vacation to enjoy the Vegas strip. We plan to see some shows, take in the sights and probably gamble just a bit. More updates from this afternoon, and full coverage of the summit (well,… semi full coverage) to follow so….
Well, it’s Wednesday evening now, I’ve been home since last night. The WiFi in the hotel room where I spent the long weekend was…. non-existent. Besides, I was too busy having fun to write anymore. Where did I leave off?! Thursday afternoon. Thursday afternoon kicked off with the Expert Elite Global Summit luncheon, with special guest Jeff Kowalski, Autodesk CTO. Jeff talked briefly about his topic from Monday’s keynote, the future of making, and then took questions from the group. I found him to be a very genuine & sincere guy with a clear vision of where are future is going, including potential pitfalls that this future technology could bring.
After our luch I attended a few more classes, and then headed down to the exhibit hall for a final visit before it was all torn down. Much of it was gone already, but the Autodesk Community pavilion was still standing. I took the opportunity to hang out for a while before the closing keynote, and found some of my new Russian friends in there taking pictures.
So,.. then it was time for the closing address, and I joined the thousands getting in line for that, actually finding myself at the front of the pack. The closing address was longer than the opening and had more guest speakers, but was less well attended than the opening, because of the closing party taking place that evening at the Palms Hotel & Casino. More on that later. I didnt get as many pictures at this closing, my phone was getting low on battery. However, I can tell you that the speakers included a young scientist who, as a hobby, answers people’s science questions online…. with cartoons. He demonstrated (graphically) what might happen to a car that could accelerate indefinitely at the same rate. Eventually having it crash into a planet halfway across the universe, causing an extinction level event and leaving future alien archaeologists wondering what killed these people, an asteroid? Volcano? Meteor?…. Volkswagon?
Next came the designers of the Made in Space 3D Printer I posted the picture of up above. They explained the reasons for and challenges of designing a printer that could print in space and also showed off the first items to be manufactured by humans, off the surface of the planet. The next guests have a fascinating vision, one of levitating large buildings in earthquake zones, to save them, and their occupants from disaster. In the course of their design work, lo and behold, they invented the worlds first actual working hover board, like the one seen in the movie Back To The Future Part 2. And who should arrive to test it out but champion skate boarder Tony Hawk.
Not one of my best pictures… but he is actually floating 3″ above the stage. The device uses electromagnetic levitation technology which is more advance than anything I could attempt to explain.
With the speakers finished and the event formally brought to a close…. we all headed out to the party. Now…. imagine if you will, attempting to load nearly 10,000 people (I’m not sure how many actually went to the party) onto motor coaches and busing them across the Las Vegas strip to another hotel, and then back again at the end of the night. Mind boggling. The party was a lot of fun, super hero themed with several models dressed up as familiar Marvel and DC Comics super heroes or villains. Lots of free food and drinks. Most of the party took place outside…. on the pool. A large Plexiglas stage had been built over the pool, and that’s where we partied. DJ, food tables, bar… everything. There was more inside, and around the edges of the pool as well. I stayed until the party officially broke up and then headed back to the Mandalay Bay for some much needed sleep. One more busy day ahead!
The final day for me was Friday, the Expert Elite global summit. A day filled with meetings, discussions, demos, introductions and food. I’m not going to go into the details,…. mostly because I can’t. All very hush hush stuff. Plus, my hand is getting tired from typing, and I’m sure you are getting tired of reading! So, I am going to close with picture from the event. Another very successful AU is now over, and it’s time to enjoy Christmas and New Years… and start looking forward to next year!!